Josef PFEFFER, born on January 1, 1912 in Vienna, had been an employee of Wiener Städtische Versicherung in Salzburg since 1932 and was married to Margarete, née Eichinger1.
The couple lived in the Maxglan district, formerly an independent municipality with a Social Democratic mayor.
PFEFFER was a convinced Social Democrat, took over functions in the party and devoted himself especially to the workers’ youth.
After February 12, 1934, when Social Democracy was banned, Josef PFEFFER, a Viennese rather than a long-time party functionary from Salzburg, was the political head of the resistance against the fascist regime in Salzburg.
In 1936 the criminal police in Salzburg succeeded in unraveling the illegal organization of the Revolutionary Socialists of Austria (RSÖ), arresting nineteen members, including the RSÖ regional leader PFEFFER. He was sentenced to ten months in hard labor for »crimes under the State Protection Law« at the Salzburg Socialist Trial, which took place on December 28, 1936.
Josef PFEFFER war nach seiner Haft arbeitslos, jedoch ungebrochen widerständig. This is shown by the fact that after March 1938 he was involved in the organized escape of endangered Jewish functionaries of the banned Social Democracy from Vienna in National Socialist Salzburg.
In this connection he was arrested by the Gestapo on July 3, 1938, and charged together with six Viennese Socialists with »preparation for high treason«: these had »always been opponents of National Socialism and, despite the eye-popping successes of National Socialism in Austria, had not thought of giving up their underground activities, but had continued them undaunted«, according to the indictment2.
On June 10, 1939, the 27-year-old Josef PFEFFER was sentenced by the »People’s Court« to 18 months in prison, with the addition that after serving his sentence he would be »held in the Oranienburg concentration camp because of his generally known communist attitude«, which meant that he was not to be released.
Josef PFEFFER was deported on March 2, 1940 to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, located north of Berlin in the town of Oranienburg, where he was registered as »protective prisoner« No. 20.621.
Josef PFEFFER, a functional prisoner in the effects chamber, responsible for insurance, was still alive when the SS leadership took the first measures to evacuate Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp as the Red Army advanced in February 1945.
A newly discovered document from the SS camp leadership dated February 6, 1945, states that Protective Prisoner No. 20621 Josef PFEFFER was to guard and accompany two boxes of insurance documents on their way to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, 300 kilometers to the west. Destination and arrival, however, are not documented.
It is therefore still unknown where and when Josef PFEFFER lost his life at the age of 33. However, he was declared dead on February 28, 1945 by a decision of the Salzburg Regional Court on March 10, 1947.
The proposal of the anti-fascist committee of persons in 1988 to name a public road after Josef PFEFFER in the city of Salzburg was forgotten.
1 Josef Pfeffer’s wife Margarete was the sister of Johann Eichinger, who was also convicted in the Salzburg Socialist Trial, subsequently fought in Spain on the side of the International Brigades, survived the persecutions and died in Vienna in 1995.
2 Trial of the People’s Court on June 10, 1939 in Vienna against six Socialists, including prominent figures: Karl Holoubek, Franz Mayer, Wilhelmine Moik, Friederike Nödl, Josef Pfeffer, Erwin Scharf and Andreas Stampler.
- Widerstand und Verfolgung in Salzburg 1934 – 1945, 1. Band, Vienna 1991, pp. 41-48, 268.
- Sachsenhausen Memorial Communication from 9. 12. 2011
- Arolsen Archives
Laid 28.08.2008 at Salzburg, Maxglaner Hauptstraße 52